Your divorce will take between 8 and 10 months to complete. Much of this time is spent by the court in processing the various documents sent to them. There is also a compulsory break of 6 weeks between the decree nisi and decree absolute.
The 10 stages of a divorce
Stage 1 - The solicitor drafts the petition
The petitioner’s solicitor takes the information that we provide in the memo of understanding and drafts a petition. This is then checked and agreed by the petitioner. The respondent solicitor then has a chance to check it before:
Stage 2 - Divorce petition
The petitioner’s solicitor sends two copies of the petition to the local divorce unit, with the fee for the divorce. The court date-stamp the petition on receiving it and allocate it a court number.
Stage 3 - Court informs respondent
The court sends a matrimonial order application and other documentation to the respondent’s solicitor.
Stage 4 - Acknowledgement of service
The respondent’s solicitor completes the acknowledgement of service. If the grounds are for unreasonable behavior, the respondent has an opportunity to say they do not agree to them, but are not contesting the divorce.
Stage 5 - Confirmation of acknowledgement to petitioner
The court processes the forms and sends a copy of the acknowledgement of service form to the petitioner’s solicitor.
Stage 6 - The Petitioner applies for a decree nisi
The petitioner’s solicitor completes and sends the court an Application for a decree nisi form, together with a copy of the respondent's response to the divorce petition and a statement form in which the petitioner confirms the facts stipulated in divorce petition. The court will set a date for the decree nisi to be heard at court
Stage 7 - Decree nisi granted
The judge will consider the grounds and grant the decree nisi.
This means the judge can see no legal reason for the divorce not to go ahead.
If the judge does not agree to the grounds, they will send a notice of refusal explaining why you cannot divorce. This is where it is important for the solicitor and your divorce expert to agree the grounds at an early stage so there are no delays later on.
Stage 8 – Consent Order submission
If you are having a consent order, this will be filed with court once your decree nisi is pronounced. The consent order will be ‘sealed’ (agreed) by the court if the judge believes it to be fair. This is where your divorce expert and solicitor / barrister input is invaluable. The consent order comes into effect once your decree absolute is agreed.
Stage 9 - Petitioner applies for decree absolute
Six weeks after the decree nisi has been granted, the petitioner can apply for a decree absolute, which is the legal document that ends the marriage. The petitioner’s solicitor will complete an application and send it to the court.
The court will nominate a date for the decree absolute to be read out in court. Neither of you have to attend for this hearing.
Stage 10 - Decree absolute granted
The court will grant your decree absolute and you are now legally divorced. The court send out a copy of the decree absolute in the post to both solicitors.